Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Down Side

Into every life some rain must fall. We've had a lot of rain lately literally and yesterday my afternoon quickly deteriorated into a flood. Well, it would have been a flood if the leak in the water heater had not been caught by the tray beneath the heater and redirected outdoors. Clever Johnny. But nonetheless I had to turn off the heater and the water going to it, so no hot water until Johnny can replace the heater, which has rusted out.

But worse was yet to come. Sometime between my 3 p.m check and 8 p.m. check, Flashpoint, the late-to-kid doe, gave birth. When I found the two kids, they were cold, apparently dead, and deformed. When I rubbed them, they gave feeble attempts to breathe so I rushed them to the sink in the milkroom, which has its own hot water tank, submerged them in warm water, and rubbed them briskly. Why I did this is a mystery since they were obviously too messed up to ever reach maturity. I rarely have deformed kids, but it happens occasionally. The dams seem to know something isn't right and ignore them, as Flashpoint was studiously doing. She's smarter than I.

One kid did not revive but the other did, so I took it in the house, put it by the woodstove, and tube fed it warm colostrum from its dam to warm it from the inside out. By morning it was wiggling, but obviously not in this universe. A few hours later, it died, never really having lived. I will bury both kids in the arboretum and plant a tree over them. We have quite a few graves in the arboretum because it is a sad fact of life that goats seldom live into their teens.

In the wild, an animal needs only raise one offspring to adulthood and have it reproduce successfully in order to keep the species population stable. On my farm, of course, I want each and every creature born here to survive, because I sell the kids and milk their moms (have to pay for feed somehow). And because, like most humans, I just hate to have any baby thing die. But in spite of my best efforts, not all will make it. I know that and yet it still hurts.

However, life does go on. Neighbor Irv is on his way and we're going to the feed store to pick up the 100 chicks we ordered between us (80 for him and 20 for me). He is going to brood them for me. Irv loves chickens. The rain is still falling outside, but cute little day-old chicks will help lift the cloud over my head this Easter weekend. Especially since I won't be responsible for keeping these babies alive until they're safely older!

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